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food travel

Wales

The morning started with a walk downhill. We had met Reja from Germany the night before. And as we were going in the same direction, we decided to continue together. The road made a huge detour to the next bridge and so we just cut across a field and made use of the vast network of bridleways and public right of way paths to get us to a footbridge over the Wye and into Wales. This turned out to be quiet an adventure because of fallen trees blocking the way and a rather steep and rocky section at the end.

On the other side of the river lies Tintern with its impressive abbey.

After Tintern we had to climb out of the Wye valley to continue our way westward. We cycled to Usk together where our short time as a trio already came to an end. Reja wanted to choose a flatter route closer to the coast, while we were heading farther North.

It was a pleasant ride through the country side. And I decided I want to become a tree designer in Wales when I grow up.

After a hefty push uphill, we cycled along the Brecon canal until we reached our destination for the day.

We stayed with Rachel and Luke close to Abergavenny. Rachel is a successful athlet, having just competed at the commonwealth games on the gold coast in track racing. Now they are planning their honeymoon: a bike ride from New York to Los Angeles.

They made a great BBQ cook up for us. Mushrooms with nuts and cheese, couscous with dried tomatoes and there were quiet a few more items on the buffet. For desert we tried homemade scones with marmelade and cream. Thus established to be trustworthy, we followed their advice to have a look at the “big pit” mining site at Blaenavon.

Before going underground one is equipped with the necessary items to survive in a mine.

Our guide John had worked in the mines for over twenty years. And although he still considers it a lucky day when he got a job at the mine, he feels like he was done a favor when the they finally closed down. Enabling him to give tours today in a good state of health.

It was a short cycling day after the visit underground. It started to rain and the evening was rather sad, pitching our tent on a vacant camping site with the reception already closed. Luckily the weather cleared until the morning and we had a good day of cycling, lost of climbing included.

After being on the road for five days, we found ourselves on a campground next to a little stream and a nice bench with table next to our tent. It looked like a good opportunity to take a day off. We celebrated a bit after those hills with a cider and creamy mushroom pasta and the next day with an apple pie to restore our energies.

Over the next days we’ll continue to cycle through Wales until Pembroke from where we plan to take the ferry to Ireland.

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England

After a nice warmshowers experience in Plymouth, we cycled up the Plym valley. It was an excellent ride on a sunny day and we met quite a few cyclists who were keen to recommend the best ale, campsite, route etc. As we were climbing, the temperatures dropped and we steered towards the yha Dartmoor instead of camping in the wild. Even so this meant some more climbing to get there.

We rested our legs the following day and decided to stay another night to explore the national park with its tors,

and the remains of settlements of the bronze age. Maybe the climate was different then, otherwise it would be strange why Dartmoor national park is full of stone circles, stone rows and dolmen.

The Dartmoor ponies are a special breed of this area. Even with a grown horse, one has to kneel down to be on eye level. The tiny size probably helps in these environments with heavy winds, cold and hardly any shelter.

Dartmoor is quiet barren but there are some quaint little villages in the vicinity which were a welcome place to restock and rest.

A lot of these had inns, pubs and churches like you’d imagine while reading a story set in this area.

One thing I imagined before coming to the south of England were its country lanes lined with trees and hedges and it was a pleasure cycling these.

On such roads we travelled until we reached Okehampton where we stayed with Tim from warmshowers. We arrived early and took the time to visit the remains of the castle.

After a quick stop at the supermarket we drove a little outside of town to have another walk through the moor before having dinner, which Tim had already prepared beforehand.

Bath was our next stop where we went to by train. We wanted to visit Paul, a cyclist whom I met in central and South America. He was soon to be off for holidays in Spain, so we choose this quicker way to get there to see him before. It was great to see him and catch up while tasting several ales and ciders.

The next day, spring arrived and we went for a walk from Paul’s house to Alexandra park from where one has a great view over the city.

The center was busy with people wearing their summer dresses and with ice cream cones in their hands. We made a picknick in a small park behind the Royal Crescent before having a look at it.

A former rail line, connecting Bath with Bristol, was converted into one of the first cycle paths of England and was also the beginning of the national cycle network “Sustrans”. It was a short ride into Bristol where we stayed at the Yha once more. We had enjoyed the few days off in Bath a lot and felt more like cycling than to explore another city. So over the Severn bridge we went to Chepstow and into Wales the next day.

Entry fees are quiet high in Britain. Mostly we are content with a quick look from the outside while having one or two cookies, like here in front of Chepstow castle.

We then cycled north along the Wye river and up, untill we reached our campsite for the night.

With a good view to end the day.

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Bretagne

We arrived in Redon in the afternoon and passed the time, until our host Anne arrived, in the lovely cafe of the train station.

Anne works in the tourist office and was so kind to show us around town before we bought the ingredients for dinner.

We made some crepes, which we accompanied with apple cider. Both very typical for the Bretagne.

The next day we rejoined the Velodyssee, which was running along the canal between Nantes and Brest.

It had its straight stretches but had enough diversity to make it an interesting ride.

We conquered some castles along the way, but decided it would be too much work to maintain one.

Another welcome diversion were the beautiful little towns, like Josselin here.

As we arrived too late to visit the castle, we at least had a good look from the outside.

There are enough beautiful places to make a break with tables and benches. And from time to time, if one is lucky, with a small garden of spices to enhance one’s sandwich.

Typical sights are the locks, from which there are more than a hundred. Often with a nice garden and trees in front of the guardian’s house, who seem to take pride in maintaining these old premises.

The campsites were beautiful too. These were mostly smaller ones and had a more familiar atmosphere. At one of these sites next to the lake of Guerledan we tasted some local beer.

Food and drink were delicious and even on a Sunday afternoon you don’t have to despair if you are left without baguette.

Christophe from warmshowers was so kind to let us camp in his garden the next day. There were so many beautiful spots around the old water mill. In the end we set up camp below this apple tree.

In the morning we drank tea out of mugs he made himself and he told us a bit about his passion for pottery.

We were lucky to find a host in Morlaix which was a really lovely time with Catherine and Michel. In the evening we played some songs on the guitar and piano with the family. And while Andrea was singing ‘Besame mucho’, Michel was accompanying her with his pocket saxophone. They let us stay a day longer which we used to have a walk through town. Looking over Morlaix next to its famous viaduct.

And the view from below.

There are crêpes and there are galletes in France. Crêpes is what most of us know. Galettes are the version with buckwheat and is exclusively eaten with salty toppings. Catherine is a master of the arts. Especially the galettes, the dough made without eggs and only water, pose a challenge.

Here with the typical egg and cheese version which we topped with some grilled vegetables.

After Morlaix it was just a day’s ride towards Roscoff from where we would take the ferry to Plymouth in England. France turned out to be a wonderful country to cycle tour and if we’d have the chance, we wouldn’t hesitate to come back.